A friend recently shared the following quote with me from a Celtic prayer book: “The measure of our love is not what we give of ourselves, but by what we hold back.”
Do yourself the favor of reviewing again the list of questions from Part 1 (shown below for your convenience). Paying special attention to the ones you said No to, how many of the questions have to do with your conscious or unconscious choice(s) to hold something back?
Are you mentally tougher than you were four years ago?
Are you a better friend than you were four years ago?
Are you more genuine and transparent than you were four years ago?
Is your marriage a higher priority to you than it was four years ago?
Do you worry less than you did four years ago?
Do you have, and live by, an improved understanding of what it means to love others than you did four years ago?
Are you guilty of fewer double standards (rules that you apply to others, but not to yourself) than four years ago?
Are you blaming things and other people less than you did four years ago?
Are you more serious about your faith than you were four years ago?
Are you doing more to get and stay healthy than you were doing four years ago?
Are you ruled by emotions less than you were four years ago?
Are you less quick to judge than you were four years ago?
Are you more flexible and “go-with-the-flow” than you were four years ago?
Based upon the overall trend of your choices and your results of the last four years, would you vote for four more years of the same?
Perhaps you have held back unconditional love for one or more reasons. Perhaps you’ve been holding back forgiveness because you’ve been deceiving yourself into thinking you have a right to do that. Perhaps the obstacle is fear and you’ve been holding yourself back from breaking through one or more worries and/or uncertainties that constantly plague your life.
Regardless of what they are, we cannot live beyond the obstacles that stand in the way of a better life by pointing our finger outward or by ignoring them.
A bull dozer is a very formidable piece of machinery. Properly used, a dozer can push virtually any blockage in the road off to the side and clear a path. However, if the person whose responsibility is to operate the powerful piece of equipment ignores the obstacles, or misidentifies them, the power to push might as well not exist.
Many years ago, co-founder of the Salvation Army, Catherine Booth, wrote, “There is no improving the future without disturbing the present.” You may be saying to yourself, ‘Well, my present is pretty disturbing!’ If so, the circumstances you are experiencing right now may be the biggest gift of your life. In fact, I’m here to say that the difficult circumstances you are enduring right now ARE the biggest gift of your life… if you choose to treat them like the gift that they truly are.
It is your responsibility – no one else’s! – to face the next four years of challenges and difficulties with an improved mindset over the last four years. Where to start: gratitude. Be grateful. Find things to be grateful for in literally every difficult thing you’re dealing with and everything you’re dealing with will begin to become easier, lighter, and more bearable.
Gratitude opens your mind and heart to the path to improvement. With an open mind and heart, the things you learn during this time will be invaluable… if you’re determined to take responsibility and learn something. The skills you gain will ensure you never go through this experience again, or if you do, how to turn things around as swiftly as possible… if you’re determined to take responsibility and gain those skills. Do you see? It’s about you taking responsibility. It starts with the acceptance of what is and gratitude will do that for you.
I know a guy whose marriage ended four years ago. I know someone who lost his house four years ago. We all know people who have experienced some tough things in the last four years. Maybe you are one of those people. I certainly am.
Are you better off now than you were four years ago? I certainly am.